Melbourne's tough run home
With three rounds of the regular season remaining, Melbourne have just one thing on their mind: winning.
Top four finishers in every year bar one since 2005, the Storm are accustomed to coasting to the finals race with their double chance locked in.
It is a different story in 2014 however, with the Victorian side sitting a game out of the top four and a finals place not yet assured.
Melbourne did their chances no harm last Saturday with a record-breaking 48-6 win over bottom placed Cronulla to move back into 5th spot on the NRL ladder.
With four wins from their past five games, the Storm are building nicely at the business end and appear to have found the consistency that has eluded them for much of this season.
Storm veteran Ryan Hoffman is well aware his side finds itself in an unfamiliar set of circumstances than season’s past.
“It is a different situation, we are not sitting pretty in the top four so we really need to work hard for it,” said Hoffman.
“With the competition as tight as it is… you just have to keep winning, because there are going to be plenty of teams at the bottom of the eight that want to get higher to give themselves that second chance.“
They will be determined to play their best football when it matters most this time around after bowing out of last year’s finals campaign in straight sets.
Perhaps having a top four spot sewn up almost a month out from finals last season was a reason for their disastrous end to 2013.
Twelve months on and Melbourne has no choice but to play at its best, a demand that may have surprising benefits.
“It should take out any complacency certainly, we need to get better, we need to keep winning, we need to keep playing good football,” said Hoffman.
“Knowing that we have to do that each week hopefully should take that complacency out.”
“We have had some good performances recently with that awful Knights game thrown in the middle. Now it is just about getting back to that consistent form that we had and building on what we achieved on Saturday night.”
The Storm will travel to Penrith to take on the Panthers in Monday night football at Sportingbet Stadium.